A witness in Delhi police's chargesheet in the murder case of head constable Rattan Lal, who died in the Northeast Delhi riots this February, has claimed that he had heard people shout "pandal had been set on fire by Kapil Mishra's people".
The witnessed identified as Najam-ul-Hasan in his statement said that he was present at the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest site on February 24 but did not see the alleged incident and only heard others shouting about it.
"The stage was set on fire by some of Kapil Mishra's supporters. I did not see it happening, but people were shouting about it," read Hasan's statement."
Hasan added that he left for his home "when the chaos increased" in the area, but returned later to hear people shout about the alleged pandal incident.
According to The Indian Express, Hasan has been named among "important witnesses" who were "fully aware of the conspiracy and planning" of the protests at Chand Bagh. The police have listed 164 witnesses in the chargesheet, including 76 police personnel and seven local residents.
Detailing the police's analysis of witness statements, the chargesheet claims, "Continuous misinformation about CAA and NRC was being spread from the protest site in which several students of DU and Jamia were also involved. Illegal march was taken out on February 23, which was stopped by police, and later in the night the conspirators held a meeting in which strategy for February 24 was decided."
It also claims that the conspirators were fully aware that violence may ensue and had directed the protesters to arm themselves. The protesters chose the date and time for the march and road blockage, that is, February 23-24 for riots when US President Donald Trump was visiting India to gain the maximum impact.
According to the reports further claim that Hasan's statement referred to an alleged meeting with Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav and advocate D S Bindra before the protest. Recounting the details, Hasan stated "Bindra started the conversation and asked us to organize a protest against NRC and CAA. He told us that he will organize langar and a medical camp, and the Sikh community is with us. He told us that if we don't wake up now, we will meet the same fate as Sikhs in 1984."
Refuting the claim, Yadav told The Indian Express that everything that he spoke was in the public domain and was nothing that remotely incited violence. While Bindra said he has been organizing the langar for five years, and questioned how it is related to the violence.
On February 23, Mishra had held a rally in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act about 2 km from Jafrabad area. He had also given the Delhi Police a three-day ultimatum to clear the protests. A day later, communal violence erupted in parts of North East Delhi, and continued for days, leaving at least 53 people dead and hundreds injured.
Kapil Mishra had also threatened protesters in the presence of police, and tweeted later that "till (Trump) is in India, we are leaving the area peacefully…after that, we won't listen to you (police)".
The BJP leader's involvement in triggering the riots was heavily scrutinized. He had previously responded to allegations about his role in the violence by denying that his supporters had pelted stones and claiming that his presence at the site was to "release pressure" as the "people were very angry" that the protests had blocked two roads that are "the lifelines of this area".
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